Monday, 11 March 2013

Bloomberg's Ban on Sugary Drinks Tossed Out in Court

A New York State Supreme Court Justice tossed out Mayor Michael Bloomberg's partial ban on sugary drinks on Monday, calling it "arbitrary and capricious," according to the official court documents detailing the decision. The ban was due to go into effect on Tuesday.

The decision was handed down by Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr., in connection with a lawsuit brought by several beverage companies and vendors against the New York City Department of Health. Tingling's decision, which lawyers representing the mayor have said will be appealed, means that, at least for now, the ban cannot go forward as planned, nor can its statutes be enforced in any way.

Here is some of the key information that has emerged following the court decision on Monday.

* According to a New York Daily News report regarding Tingling's decision, the judge took issue with the fact that the ban applied only to certain sugary beverages, but did not include others. Also at issue was the fact that it did not apply to all establishments, and that the ban was put into place by the New York City Department of Health.

* Tingling maintained that imposing such a ban was not in the department's power, and that if the department was allowed to do so, it "would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, but eviscerate it," as quoted in the official court documents.

* The ban on sugary drinks, according to the Washington Post's explanation of its effects, would have, as a general rule, banned restaurants, theaters, and other establishments from either selling beverages that were more than 16 ounces or, in the case of self-service dispensers, providing cups that were larger than 16 ounces for customers to fill.

* Coffee shops would have been banned from selling coffee blends that were larger than 16 ounces if the blends in question were not at least half milk. Milkshakes would have had to contain at least half milk or ice cream, but fruit juices and smoothies would have been exempt entirely, as would soda refills.

* Different kinds of establishments, that may also sell large sugary drinks as part of their business, were exempt, including convenience and grocery stores.

* Bloomberg had stated that the ban was necessary to try and combat obesity in the city. As such, its progress was being monitored nationwide, as his ban on smoking and his calorie count law had been in past years.

* New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said in a statement on Monday that he was confident that the mayor's ban on sugary drinks would go forward, stating that he and his legal team "plan on appealing the decision as soon as possible," and that he and his team "are confident the Board of Health's decision will ultimately be upheld," as quoted by Reuters.

* Cardozo and his team have previously fought to uphold Bloomberg's ban on smoking in the city and his calorie count law, both of which underwent multiple legal issues and challenges before eventually being upheld in court. Both measures have now spread nationwide.